From October until mid April there is a constant trickle of candy and sugar related festivities at every turn. As soon as the Halloween candy is gone, the Thanksgiving cakes, pies, and cookies appear. Shortly after that the Hanukkah gelt and Christmas candy arrive. Just when the last of it has finally been exercised from the home, Valentine’s Day comes, then St. Patrick’s, which is also apparently now a candy holiday (for the kiddos, anyway), and then Purim and Easter. Seven months of sticky, sugary stuff in kid’s faces.
Believe it or not, this can be circumvented. Not avoided entirely, certainly, but brought to a much more moderate level. With the support and participation of other family and community members, replacing candy in the holidays can be done, and it benefits everyone. Here are just a few ideas for replacing the sugary treats of the holiday season:
The Switch Witch
The switch witch removes Halloween candy and exchanges it for a cool new book! Allow children to pick one piece of candy from their haul for every year they are old. Eight year olds get eight candies, etc., then the rest gets put out for the switch witch who whisks it away and replaces it with a cool new book. When passing out candy to trick or treaters, go for the now widely available alternatives such as pencils, fake tattoos, bubbles, even little notebooks.
Helping To Prepare
Sometimes, helping to make, roll, cut, bake, etc. the cookies and pies is enough of an experience with the treats that children don’t feel the need to eat quite so many once they have done all the work of making them. It seems counterintuitive, but once a kid has spent hours rolling and cutting, sugar cookies aren’t all that exciting.
Go Old School
In the ancient era of the 1980’s, most kids got a tangerine, some walnuts, and maybe one small candy cane in a stocking. Get retro and fill up the holiday gifts with flavored nuts, tangerines, toothbrush and toothpaste, things like that.
For the holidays kids spend at school, try to drum up support amongst the classroom parents for doing a candy free celebration. The class can still have their little parties, but pick just cupcakes or just cookies, not all of the above and more. Veggies and dip, bagels with pink cream cheese, heart-shaped deviled eggs, all are on-theme, none are candy. For pass-out treats like valentines, many stores now offer erasers or stickers as valentines instead of candy.
At a recent Easter celebration at a local community center, kids picked up plastic eggs that jingled! Opening up, kids discovered pennies, dimes, nickels, and the rare quarter. They were excited and enthusiastic about finding more! Considering that easter eggs typically hold much more than a nickel’s worth of candy inside, it may actually be less expensive to empty the change dish into the Easter eggs than to use the same money to fill them with candy. Make it a group activity, and all the parents can chip in their spare change for the eggs, and then there is still the possibility of a few eggs that do contain a sweet treat, but significantly less than in years past.
Bringing down the level of candy consumption on these back-to-back candy infused celebrations doesn’t mean kids will never, or should never get candy. However, while they’re too young to self regulate or brush their own teeth, this is a great alternative. Sugar affects the littlest kids the most, the toddlers, preschoolers, and Pre-Kindergarten age children often do eat until they don’t feel well, and their teeth and their moods suffer, which means everyone in the home or childcare center is also suffering. Spare them the meltdowns and tummy aches, the candy won’t be missed!
Prime Time Early Learning Centers host Halloween “Trunk or Treat” Halloween events for children in our Paramus, Edgewater, Hoboken and East Rutherford Day Care Centers and Pre-K programs in New Jersey, and our Farmingdale and Middletown New York Child Care Centers. Instead of giving candy to children (which can also pose issues for kids with peanut or tree nut allergies, sugar issues including diabetes or ADHD, or or gluten allergies) Prime Time encourages its staff and parents to hand out little trinkets and toys that are both fun and educational for the children, and do not contribute to excessive sugar intake, tooth decay or other health considerations.
Prime Time Early Learning Centers serve children and families in Paramus, Oradell, Ridgewood, Edgewater, Cliffside Park, Fort Lee, North Bergen, Fairview, Hoboken, Weehawken, Jersey City, East Rutherford, Carlstadt, Wood-Ridge, Lyndhurst New Jersey.
Prime Time Early Learning Centers serve children and families in Middletown, Wallkill, and Goshen New York, as well as Farmingdale, South Farmingdale, East Farmingdale, West Babylon, North Amityville and Melville New York.